SSI Benefit Eligibility May Change at Age 18

When children turn 18 and transition into adulthood, they and their parents face a number of decisions-where they'll live, whether they'll continue their education, and what sort of job they'll get. This is particularly true for teenagers and young adults who are disabled.

Individuals who have received SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits before turning 18 will need to be re-evaluated by the Social Security Administration during the year after they turn 18 in order to continue to qualify for benefits. Different medical and non-medical rules are used by the government to determine eligibility for benefits after age 18.

For instance, after age 18, the financial resources of the family are not used to determine whether the child's income and resources exceeds the limits to qualify for SSI. This means that some children who previously did not qualify for SSI benefits may now qualify as adults. Rules governing what constitutes disability are also different for children and adults.

SSI benefits are calculated in part based on the state in which a person lives, the living arrangement (with others or alone), the total number of people living in the residence, and the type of income the person receives. Thus, if a young adult moves out of the parents' home, his or her SSI eligibility may change.

The SSI program also has a series of incentives that encourage children and young adults to attend school (and eventually find work), and these incentives may affect eligibility and payments. For example, children 15 or older can save some income and resources to pay for education without this money being counted against their income for SSI purposes. Persons under age 22 who regularly attend school can deduct up to $6,600 annually from their earnings when calculating income for SSI purposes.

In addition to SSI benefits, some disabled adults are entitled to SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits, if the disability began before they turned 22.

There are a number of organizations in southeastern Michigan that help families with disabled children make the transition from youth to young adulthood. Persons with disabilities and their families should explore their options with these organizations, and if they have any questions about obtaining SSI or SSDI benefits, they should talk with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.